Connecting at GRP
By Sara Huffman
There is a strong connection to place here at GRP. It has been almost palpable in the last 24 hours as the campers arrived, many of them returners. Last night was our Upper Council Fire, the most reverent of our evening programs. We all processed up to a hillside, through the Spirit Stones of years past. Chief Seattle’s letter was read and songs were sung. One of the most important parts of the opening Upper Council Fire is the explanation of Spirit Stones.
The idea of Spirit Stones is one that Sandy adopted at the beginning of GRP. Each camper, during his or her time at GRP finds a stone that becomes special to them. During the last few days of camp, the camper may decide to paint the stone, and it is then placed around the Upper Council Fire on the last night of camp. The idea, according to Sandy, is that wherever you go in life, there will always be a part of you resting on a quiet hillside surrounded by friends. This is one of the most crucial ways that campers build their connection to place.
This morning everybody awoke to a somewhat cloudy day, but with smiling faces we all proceeded to the lodge and ate breakfast, then soon departed on Mentor Hikes. The campers went all over the Preserve; breaking up into their hiking groups that traveled to the Cave, the Balds, Uncle’s Creek, Hemlock Field, and the Farm. From the stories I heard at lunch, it was a morning full of exploration, discovery, and creation of ties to place. Many campers have already found their Spirit Stones.
This afternoon we begin our first activities; among them included climbing, canoeing, crafts, fencing, field games, archery and many more. The campers are greatly looking forward to them all. For now, though, it is rest hour, an afternoon thunderstorm is rolling through, and the rain in the forest is lulling us to sleep.
Tonights evening activity is the beloved “Predator Prey” a fun game that lets the campers and their councilors divide into either; insects, frogs, snakes or hawks and explore the woods to learn about the cycle of life and how prey uses camofloge to stay hidden from bigger animals. Needless to say it has become one of the campers favorite activity!
Here is a poem that was written on one of the Mentor hikes this morning, I know you all will enjoy it as much as we did!
Group #5, Becca, and I hiked to the Indian Cave
To take a look and a gander
The group all spoke and then took a vote
And became the “Sourwood Salamanders”
Bella, Gracie, Christian,
Wesley, Julia, and Cate
Grace, Emma, Cameron,
John, Truman, and Jake
The cave was a bit smelly and we crawled on our belly all the way to the very back
We looked for a bear, but found none there, so placed all the helmets in the sack
Next, we hiked to Long Rock and pounded the drum
And saw an amazing number of ants
We jumped and we ran as fast as we can
To keep them out of our pants
Then, we came back, happy as can be
Glad to be having lunch at the GRP
Such creative minds working away here at the Preserve, in just one short day the campers are already connecting with nature as well as each other!!
Your GRP Photographer,